— By Luke Yates
Canadians had a fantastic start to our country’s Ironman season, with podium sweeps in both the men’s and women’s pro fields at Ironman 70.3 Victoria this morning. Heather Wurtele continued her 2016 winning streak, dominating the women’s field in 4:13:06 and Taylor Reid bounced back from a season plagued with bad luck so far to take the men’s title in a remarkable 3:49:10.
Reid claimed the victory despite a nasty looking crash on the bike coming into T2. He came out of the water alongside pre-race favourite Trevor Wurtele, less than a minute back from the lead in the shortened 1,500 m swim course.
Reid and Wurtele soon set about closing the gap on the bike and by the first checkpoint on the cycle course, they had moved into first and second, with Nathan Killam a close third. Reid pulled clear at about 60km into the bike, seemingly coping best with the tough undulating finish to the course.
Drama was to come though, as Reid was thrown from his bike approaching the dismount line coming into T2. Regardless, he had a gap of nearly one and a half minutes heading out onto the run, with Wurtele in second and Matt Lieto moving into third.
Wurtele tried to close the gap, but the hard packed gravel trail played to Reid’s strengths as a runner and he took the win in 3:49:10. Wurtele did edge closer, finishing 46 seconds back, and Stephen Kilshaw had a superb run to move up from sixth to third, a little over a minute behind Wurtele. Elliot Holtham and Killam rounded out an all Canadian top five, with the top six finishers all under four hours.
The women’s race was all about one woman. Heather Wurtele dominated the field to claim her fourth Ironman 70.3 win of the season.
Wurtele led out of the water with the fastest swim of the day in 19:58, 32 seconds ahead of Rachel McBride who was returning from injury with her first triathlon in 13 months.
Wurtele then moved further clear on the bike, opening up a lead of 1:32 by the first checkpoint, and extending this to more than three minutes leaving T2. Jen Annett rode herself into second place, with McBride dropping back to third.
Halfway through the run, Wurtele was seven minutes clear of Annett, and the rest of the race was little more than a procession as she cruised home to win in 4:13:06. Malindi Elmore had a great run to move into second, six minutes 29 seconds behind, with Annett third, McBride fourth and Alexandra Gordichuk rounding out another all Canadian top five.